Sunday, August 9, 2009

Channeling Provence: A New England Ratatouille

As the weeks go by and summer becomes late summer (and soon to be fall - yikes!), our CSA shares change with the harvest. For the first time this past week, we got eggplant in our shares. Naturally, being raised in a suburban wonderland where all pizza places bread, fry and dump marinara sauce on their eggplant, I thought of eggplant parmigiana.

I pulled out Joy of Cooking, found the eggplant section and flipped to the page for eggplant parmigiana. And right next to that recipe was the recipe for ratatouille provencale. I must admit that I did not know that ratatouille had eggplant in it. I've seen the movie but I guess I wasn't paying very close attention. I decided I should try something new and give the recipe a try. Sorry, eggplant parm.

Looking it over, it's easy to see why this is such a classic French summer dish. In addition to the eggplant, it incorporates zucchini, bell pepper, tomatoes, garlic, onions and herbs. New England seems to have this in common with Provence because I was able to find almost all the ingredients I needed at the farmer's market. This dish may be French in conception but can be wonderfully local here in Massachusetts.

There are so many versions of this recipe and as long as you respect the basic concept (layering of the summer garden flavors), you will be pleased with the results. I broke with tradition and added some soft, creamy, crumbled chevre on top. Again, more French inspiration, locally sourced!

Bon Apetit!


Saturday, August 8, 2009


Call me pollyanna, but I'm still refusing to believe "the farm" is going to lose it's entire tomato and potato crop. Even though, "some of the potato varieties are dying and the tomatoes don't look that good" (Desiree's words). And all of the surrounding farms have lost their crops to Late Blight. Sigh.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tomatoes with a Twist

Amanda Cather's newsletter on late blight literally brought goosebumps to my arms and tears to my eyes. This small glimpse into what many of our ancestors were up against as they settled this great land overwhelms me. At that time, a regional disaster such as this could mean the difference between life or death for members of a family, which made their living off of the land. It's really scary when you think about that.

I'd like to think we've come a long way in some regards. While I cringe at the devastation late blight has caused (and will continue to cause) in the surrounding region this year, I hope that by participating in a CSA (and/or supporting local farmers at farm stands or farmers' markets) we are ensuring that said farms (and future generations of those who run them) are here tomorrow.
Having said all that....I've been harboring this post since WhataCard posted about her disappointment at the total loss of her CSA's tomato crop. I kind of felt like I was sitting her (safely 2.25 hours away from WaC) saying nonny, nonny, boo, boo as I dined on these delectable treats. I've given it a lot of thought since then and finally came to the conclusion that if ever there were a time to rejoice in the glorious bounty we receive from this great earth, this is one of those times. So without further adieu.....

Tomatoes with Mint

This is a bit of a twist on the usual tomato, basil and mozzarella salad. My parents were visiting last week and brought us a large bag of cherry tomatoes from their garden. After eating them in salads for a few days, I sliced the remaining red morsels in half, tossed them with some fresh mint from the garden and sprinkled a little sugar on top. This is VERY refreshing (especially on a hot, humid summer day).

One of my other favorite combinations is sliced tomatoes and chunks of Great Hill Blue Cheese, a local favorite, drizzled with A.O.C. Extra Virgin Olive Oil from the Valle des Baux in Provence sourced from Bizalions in Great Barrington, MA and sprinkled with fresh ground salt and pepper. Add a loaf of your favorite bread and a bottle of wine......

Bon Appetit!